Thursday, May 31, 2012

Myth #5 - Everyone Who Works in a Library is a Librarian

At my last campus library position, the students thought I was the library assistant because I "had to read them stories", and occasionally they saw me sitting in my office (that doubled as a storage room) doing the paperwork of ordering, grant writing, or completing reports.

So if I wasn't the librarian, who was? According to the students, it was the two assistants who "checked out books." It seems the students thought my assistants had the "funner job".

Haver you ever had a case of mistaken identity?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ALL Librarians - This is your Time

I found Ned Porter's SlideShare presentation titled: New Librarians - This is Your Time! I had someone comment that it should be ALL librarians since it certainly applies to us all!

Never Fall Down: A Novel - Nerdy Book Club Guest Post

Never Fall Down: A Novel


 Never Fall Down: A Novel A novel by Patricia McCormick

 I picked up this book yesterday morning after reading about it in the NPR Book Review. I don’t normally read books like Never Fall Down, but when I picked it up and started reading, I was hooked. McCormick retells the story of a young boy forced into the Cambodian killing fields where he fights to survive for three years, eight months, and twenty days. Her story details experiences of Arn Chorn-Pond, making it one of the most unforgettable reads you’ll ever experience. Patricia McCormick has been the National Book Award Finalist, Gustav-Heinemann Peace Prize Winner 2009, ALA Best YA Book Winner 2007 and winner of countless other awards for her young adult books.

 Never Fall Down begins with Arn, a young Cambodian boy, who has lost his mother and father to dire circumstances. Arn’s father had a motorcycle accident and hit his head on the road, dying in the hospital and leaving behind a wife and six children. Arn’s mother is faced with the fact that she can’t keep the family opera business afloat, forcing her to leave to Phnom Penh. While she goes to Phnom Penh to make money to support Arn and his five siblings, they are sent to live with their aunt. Their aunt, a single woman with no children, faces financial hardship to raise her six nieces and nephews. While Arn is supposed to be studying with the village monks, he feels compelled to make money on his own by peddling and gambling to help the family out. Although his older sister frowns upon this, Arn continues to find means of attaining money and food. McCormick wrote Never Fall Down in first person strategically using broken English to details Arn’s story.

 The story moved quickly from Arn’s background to the day that he watched buses and garbage trucks roll into his village. The trucks were filled with soldiers that all looked the same: dark skin and a tough fa├žade. They were all dressed in black pajama outfits and black caps. The only color they possessed were the red and white scarfs tied around their heads. Arn noticed that the soldiers were young, teenagers not much older than him. They all had shoes made of car tires and brandished their guns as they sat on their vehicles. He noticed that they had many bullets strapped across their chests. The villagers came out of their huts, cheering for the soldiers, all holding something white like scarves and bed sheets. All Arn heard is that the war was over and that they should give the soldiers whatever they could. By nature, Arn was street smart. He was always watching everything going on and learned quickly that something was not right. The Khmer Rouge soldiers called for all government soldiers to come out into the middle of the village. Arn watched in awe, believing that they were all to greet the Prince. He silently followed them, only to get tired and stop to rest. He dreamt of bullets popping, but when he headed back to the village, seeing that there were no more government soldiers, he realized that the popping of rifles left all the soldiers dead. By the time Arn returned to his village, he encountered thousands and thousands of people walking with their belongings. Bullhorns informed him that everyone would be leaving home for three days. He later realized that three days was a hoax.

 From this point on, we walk side by side with Arn as he is led to Cambodian Killing fields and endures the split of his family. All women, men and children were separated. He would struggle for the next three years, wondering who survived and who didn’t. As the story is told, you feel Arn’s horror as he witnessed the atrocities of the war. It becomes evident that he did whatever it took to stay alive. Arn witnessed countless deaths of children, destined to starve as they ate rice soup day after day. All children were ordered to forget their families and give all their belongings away. The Khmer Rouge believed in no rich or poor, only equals that dressed the same and owned nothing. All those with any education were murdered, the rich were murdered, and the weak were murdered.

 Arn’s life is spared so many times by so many people. He learned to play an instrument and used his talent to gain some power. Many times he was given extra food for his music and other times he would steal while guards watched him. He became brazen knowing that the guards weren’t going to challenge him. The extra food he earned or stole enabled others to live because he would use the extra food to feed his comrades. Arn used his talent to his advantage and got many perks with it. He was constantly torn though, because his friends were working in the fields while he was allowed to be inside practicing his instrument. He didn’t escape the horror though. He soon learned that his music group was asked to play three times a day for a reason. The music was being used to drown out the coconut cracking sound. He learned that the coconut cracking sound was a hatchet striking the skull of a person. The atrocities that young Arn witnessed were almost more than I could bear. The Cambodian genocide in the 1970’s left over 1.7 million people dead. Men, women and children were overworked, starved and murdered. Arn witness cannibalism in many forms and a ruthlessness that left families destroyed. McCormick writes a moving account of Arn Chorn-Pond’s powerful story. This novel is haunting and inspiring from beginning to end.

 'Never Fall Down': Surviving The Killing Fields An Interview with Arn Chorn-Pond by NPR STAFF

 J. Ann Vega Library Coordinator, IDEA Public Schools Twitter @annvega

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Myth #4 How much Time Librarians Actually Read and How They Decide What To Read

I forgot to include book club information, so here you go! 

52% Host Book Clubs in the Library
40% Don't Belong in a Book Club and Don't Host a Book Club
5% Host a Book Club and Belong to an Adult Book Club
2% Teachers Host a Book Club
1% Belong to an Adult Book Club


Sunday, May 27, 2012

EduClipper - Sign Up Now

According to Educational Technology Guy, there is a new app on its way that will allow you to clip and share anything on the Internet.

Sign up now here to be notified when EduClipper is available.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Google Docs in the Classroom

Richard Byrne has some of the most wonderful tools he has created for teachers. In this Google Tutorial, he gives tips on how to use Google Docs in the classroom. Google for Teachers

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Myth #3 - Poll Results and (NEW Infographic Tool!)

Our readers believe librarians are needed more than ever...

The results of poll #3 are below, put into infographic form with, a new online tool in beta form.  It has a wide variety of vhemes (visual themes), icons, and backgrounds available.  Only drawback: it does not auto-save.

Librarian_Future title=

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Myth #3 - With Everything Becoming Available Electronically, We Will No Longer Need Librarians

There have been many articles and blog posts lately debating the future of libraries. It is hard to imagine a school without one of these learning centers (where else would faculty meetings, testing, and baby showers take place?), but this post focuses on busting the myth that librarians will become obsolete.

With the threat of Kindles, Nooks, and Google taking over the world of research and reading, do students need to be taught Information Literacy skills, or are they doing fine without librarians? I believe that as our access to information grows, the need for teachers of Information Literacy will only become more crucial.

In searching for data to back up my claim, I read three articles that highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of librarians and research:


In the March/April 2012 issue of Knowledge Quest, published by the American Association of School Librarians, three teachers shared their co-teaching project at Prosper High school. The librarian (Stacy Cameron), the English teacher (Adria Butcher), and the instructional technology coach (Christine Haight) collaborated and co-taught a multimedia project in which student created their own public-service announcements that included evidence of ethos, pathos, and logos, contained correctly selected and cited copyright-friendly music and images, and used a variety of technology for the final product. After the initial collaboration meeting, Stacy and Christine created web pages together, with the links and tools students would need. 

This  article brilliantly outlines the power of co-teaching. Each teacher focused on her area of expertise while supporting the others, modeling for the students what a group project should look like. With three experts in the room, students were charged with taking responsibility for their learning, seeking out the support they needed for their personal areas of weakness.  By bringing in the technology coordinator to instruct students at the beginning, much of the chaos that comes with technology productions was avoided.  And throughout the project, Adria was able to focus on teaching the elements of english, rather than simultaneously become a resource and technology expert, to ensure all students learned the targeted objectives.  

This is the ideal of teacher-librarian collaboration.  Who would not want this type of instruction and learning for their students? 


Moving from the ideal to the reality, at too many school libraries, is the article What Happens When Media Positions Are Cut? from the May/June 2011 issue of Library Media Connection. In her article, Mary Alice Anderson notes that librarians are often cut when budgets are tight, and then itemizes the cost to students when Certified Librarians are cut.

  • Less research takes place in the school.  Teachers become frustrated by the growing burden of finding resources alone
  • Staff development provided by the librarian is cut or may not occur, leaving teachers without the knowledge to share online resources
  • Collaboration occurs by e-mail only 
  • Library hours are reduced
  • Collection development suffers with less time for librarians to read reviews, seek suggestions, weed, browse, and perform collection analysis. This results in duplicates or holes in the collection.
  • Para-professionals, who may lack the necessary content knowledge to do so effectively, are left to locate resources and fill requests
  • Loss and theft of resources increases, costing precious dollars
  • Priorities shift... MARC records may or may not be accurate, making it difficult to locate materials
  • Websites and databases fall into disrepair, with dead links or unused subscriptions
  • Advocacy diminishes.  "How do you spread the word when you are spread thin?
  • And worst of all, as one librarian said, "We have lost students and teachers seeing us as partners."

Ann and I have faced each of the consequences above as we moved from being responsible for one library then four libraries then six and now we each face the task of overseeing eight libraries for the upcoming school year.  Yet, as the article concludes, librarians continue to make the best of their situations. In our district, we continue to work to build relationships and strive to fill all requests, but it is not the same.


So what is the long-term effect of cutting librarians? What happens when students in grades K-12 are not being taught information literacy?  Students enter college without the skills they need to be successful. Professors must teach skills that were once introduced in elementary school.

In her 2004 article for College Teaching, It's the Information Age, So Where's the Information? Why Our Students Can't Find It and What We Can Do to Help, Jill D. Jenson addresses students' inability to distinguish between types of materials for research.  Unlike the differences between print journals versus print magazines, which can be seen and felt, distinguishing between online resources is difficult for students because one computer screen looks much like the next. Students lack the experiential background in a real library with real, print materials to make the jump from traditional research to electronic research without instruction. 

Students rate themselves computer literate, but they are unaware of how much they do not know.  Current teaching objectives need to include what students must learn to simply begin their research. Jenson explains that "Whereas students could previously get by with learning terms such as "periodical," "journal," "index," "bibliography," "citation," "card catalog," "Library of Congress Subject Headings," and "call number," they now must learn a whole new language in addition to that previously required: "Boolean operator," "meta search," "general database," "specialized database," "text image," "verbatim image," "full-text image," "access date," "marked list," "search wizard"the list certainly could go on."

I am happy to note that part of Ms. Jensen's suggested solution included collaboration with a librarian as well as taking students to the physical library building.  As someone who sends high school graduates off to college, I feel it is my role to teach many of these terms and skills. Teaching freshmen or graduate students these skills so late in their education robs them of learning opportunities along the way. Information literacy includes skills a life-long learner needs to sate their appetite for knowledge.

What does the future hold for librarians?  I wish I could predict.  With so much more for students to learn, who is going to teach it, if not a librarian?  

What do you think?

Works Cited
Anderson, Mary A. "What Happens When Media Positions Are Cut?" Library Media Connection 29.6 (2011): 16-19. Print.
Cameron, Stacy, Adria Butcher, and Christine Haight. "In Their Own Words." Knowledge Quest 40.4 (2012): 28-33. Print.
Jenson, Jill D. "It's the Information Age, so Where's the Information? Why Our Students Can't Find It and What We Can Do to Help." College Teaching 52.3 (2004): 107-12. Web.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interactive Mind Map for Librarians and Teachers

I wanted to create an interactive tool using a visual that I created on iMindMap. I had newbie librarians and teachers in mind - those who might be technology challenged or need an introduction to some great tools to use in the library or classroom.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Myth #2 - What? Librarians need computers?

Thursday, we sent out a survey asking if your school provides a computer and how you use it. We also wanted to get a glimpse of what PLN tools you use. I think the results will surprise you. Some of you were were shocked that a technology director would not know that librarians need computers. Believe me, Cindy and I were taken back, but we have worked hard to inform him. Take a look at the survey results:

We asked what you would say if your technology director asked you to justify a laptop to use all year?  Here are some of the responses.....

"Seriously? ;)"

"I am as much an educator/teacher as anyone else in the district. In addition, much of the research I do to support curriculum and develop my collection is online. I teach online research skills; I need to be able to use the laptop to develop my own curriculum for my own information literacy lessons."

"I am sure that I would get a shocked and amazed look on my face. Then I would smile really big and say something like the following (in the friendliest tone of voice I could muster,) "I know librarians back in the forties didn't need computers but these days, I use my desktop computer with circulation desk software constantly..." Then I would just keep talking about technology and how I use it in a really gushy friendly tone of voice. I would also say, "you know, in library grad school we were given lots of technology training- and I think it has been that way in the U.S. for more than 20 years now."

"Libraries are virtual necessitating portable online access for instruction, for maintenance of the collection, for timely updates to library information."

"What, are you kidding! I use my school-issued laptop to create lessons, create SmartBoard slideshows, work on my inventories, add books to the collection through Destiny, and help teachers find resources appropriate to the common core!"

"Dear Director,
Do YOU need a laptop?  Do YOU need a phone? Do YOU communicate with teachers and administrators?  DO YOU TEACH KIDS?"

"I'd stop right in my tracks & ask  how I would teach research skills, information/cyber safety, use the Smartboard, book trailers, ebooks, streaming video, author videos, etc without computers. Oh, and how about searching the  library's database for books, & websites?  How would students create 21st century reports.  I use all my computers in the library every day. Next year, my principal is putting a computer lab in the library for project-based learning & the tech asst. will be stationed with me."

We had close to two hundred responses to this survey, we really appreciate your time!  We are trying to build up our blog following,  if you wouldn't mind, follow us!

What, Librarians need computers?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Myth #1 - Libraries are ONLY about Books

Earlier this week, we sent out a survey asking what comes to mind when you hear the word "Librarian". Take a look at the Wordles Ann created from the responses we received:

The general public DOES think of BOOKS when they think of librarians.... 75% of all responses included the words book or books.

But look at what LIBRARIANS think of:

Books are definitely a major part of our job, but so are students, information, teachers, and technology. Only 30.1% of librarian responses contained the words book or books. Almost the same number, 28.5% included the words teach, teaches, or teaching.

It was suggested that answers be kept to one word, but very few people could do that. Answers were typically 2-3 word phrases. Some of our favorite answers included:

They take care of a libraries. The like to read books. They are kind.
---It is my dream that every student, and teacher, encounter a librarian who fits this description.

collaboration technology programming
--- Look, ma! No books... but such essential tasks.

Helps you find books. Helps you find information (in books, in databases, or online). Helps with technology questions.
--- We are the go-to people. Does everyone at your school know this?

We want to hear from you... We know that great things are being done... Let's spread the word...
What you are doing to help bust the myth that libraries are only a place to check out books?

The Perplexing Truth Behind the Legend of Librarians

The Perplexing Truth Behind the Legend of the LibrarianCindy and I are on a mission to dispute the myths and legends of librarians and libraries. When people think of librarians, it is amazing that individuals still envision the stereotypical librarian of yesteryear. I know what you are thinking: the bun, the spectacles and the sensible shoes. No more my friends, the librarians of this millennium are different. We are asking that you submit a picture of you working in your library debunking the image what people think of librarians. Go ahead - show us what you are made of! Please post your pictures on our tumblr!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Apps of the Week - BugMe! & Visualize

With 1000's of apps out there, how do you find what you need? My app choices are generally either serendipitous or word-of-mouth recommendations. I certainly haven't tried them all, but I am committing to share a couple of my favorite apps each week.

I am a messy thinker. Ann about fell out of her chair the first time she watched me take my to-do list, write each item on a separate sticky note, spread them out across my desk, sort, and stack into a prioritized list. "What happens if you lose them?" she asked.

Losing my stickies has never been an issue, despite the daily travel. Staying focused is. I just can't work down a to-do list without getting side-tracked from the highest priority. So a stack of stickies gives me one thing to focus on at a time. AND I love the physical act of crumpling up and throwing away each item when a task is complete.

Fortunately, they are some other messy thinkers out there who know how to create apps. Now I can create virtual stickies without fear of losing them. BugMe! is an app that allows you to create stickies, color-code and sort them. They can be "written" with a finger or, for you less-messy thinkers, keyed in. You can even set up reminders or save them to your launch screen. When a task is complete, throw them in the virtual trash can. I do not remember how I found this one, but for $1.99 it has been a steal. Between BugMe! And Outlook, I stay focused while on the fly.

Visualize is the photo layering program on my ipad that I used to create the graphic in my last post. (ThingLink was added later.) This program came as a recommendation from
Kathy Schrock at the Infographics session I attended at TxLA. There was a small cost which I cannot remember.... There is a free version, but I splurged and got the $0.99 version. This is the first program I have been able to successfully create visuals with on my iPad. It is eBay to use, but the provided backgrounds and stickers are limited. It allows for imported PNG files, but I have not yet tried that.

What are YOUR favorite apps?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

eBooks... My 2¢

Last year I took the plunge, buying a sampling of eBooks to see what worked in my library. I tried a little bit of everything. Scroll over the image below to see the pros and cons I found of circulating each device in my library.

In my personal life, I love the portability and access of eBooks. I have always traveled with a lot of books, starting as an elementary student when I would check out one book for each day of a road trip. Disneyland in 5th grade was a 6-book trip! Owning a Kindle was something I resisted, but when I received one as a Christmas gift, I fell in love immediately. Then when I graduated to my iPad with Kindle AND nook apps, PLUS the ability to navigate a road trip, book online hotel reservations, and blog about it before I even got home, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

But as a librarian, I have a whole other opinion about eReaders. Let me say right here, I know ebooks are the future, and I do like them for personal use, but I am finding them a pain in my present library setting. In a nutshell, a library for 1,400 students run by one assistant with additional non-library tasks does not have time to teach, catalog, update, and solicit title requests for eReaders... nor does a traveling librarian. These devices really do require additional time and adequate staffing.

Electronic resources are handy. But they do not promote themselves. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Read More:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Learning for a Changing World - Today's Youth, Tomorrow's Leaders

I happened upon this presentation by Chris Kennedy. This slideshow really gets you thinking about how we can facilitate learning in the age of technology. You will be left with a lot of questions - for me, that is the way to start thinking.His slideshare blurb describes him as, " the Superintendent of Schools / CEO with the West Vancouver School District (West Vancouver, BC). He has taught secondary English and Social Studies, and been both an elementary and secondary school principal. One of the most progressive voices in BC education, Chris has been featured by Macleans Magazine as one of the 100 Young Canadians to Watch and his work has been featured in various local and national publications. He was recently named one of the Top 10 Canadian Newsmakers in Educational Technology." Take a look at this great presentation....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

101 Ways to use TAGXEDO

Tagxedo is a site that allows you to put any URL to gather information for a picture. There are different shapes you can choose from or you can upload a picture you like. I put this URL and got this picture.
Here are 101 ways you can use this awesome tool! The URL is:

Innovative NEWS sources